"We believe in each other" - how young people build peace

Jakatarub uses colorful campaigns to raise public awareness of the importance of interfaith tolerance. Photo: Jakatarub

Their names are Clara, Christo and Rudy, they are in their twenties to early thirties, they are studying management or teaching English, and they are among the older active members of the Jakatarub interfaith network. This operates out of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, a hotspot of religious intolerance. We meet about a dozen of the young peace activists of Jakatarub for a talk in Bandung and want to know from them why they are campaigning for religious peace in their country. It is true that the mood in the group is upbeat and there is a lot of laughter. But when they are asked if they know of any cases of violence against religious freedom or have even experienced it firsthand, the mood turns serious. She has to wear a veil on the university campus, says a young woman. Her seat neighbor reports that in his family they say that anyone who has contact with people of other religions will go to hell.

With the support of Mission 21 and together with the Pasundan Church, the interfaith youth network Jakatarub runs an annual youth camp or "Interfaith Youth Camp" - so that the young participants can overcome their prejudices against other religions, ethnic groups and social classes, learn about and appreciate religious diversity, and then become active themselves in interfaith groups. Jakatarub advocates for religious tolerance with sensational campaigns in public and via social media. 

All of the participants in the conversation are enthusiastic about the peace network, in which the denominations come closer together and there is even room for doubts about religion. "Jakatarub has opened my eyes to the fact that Indonesia is characterized by diversity and that I want to work for it," says one of the young adults. Today, he thinks a lot about what charity means in his religion and what he can do personally for tolerance and peace. 

Over years of work, Mission 21 has built trusting relationships with Christian partner churches, but also with Muslim educational institutions, NGOs and the Indonesian Federation of Churches. "This makes us a credible counterpart and actor in interreligious peace work in Indonesia," says Katharina Gfeller, who is responsible for Mission 21's Asia program. The Protestant mission agency wants to further develop the interreligious education program for religious education teachers in middle schools. In addition, two further project partnerships are to be established with Muslim nonprofit organizations in Indonesia. Because, says Katharina Gfeller of Mission 21, "Only by joining forces can we strengthen peace."

Text: Anna Wegelin and Mara Wirthlin

► Information on our peace campaign

► Information on the interfaith peace project in Indonesia

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